A cafeteria in which food and drink were obtained from slot machines.‘When the detective in The Erasers eats lunch, it is in an automat where food is reduced to ‘cubes’ and ‘replicas.’’
- ‘Fueled by the nickels of new legions of white collar workers and immigrants who could not speak English and therefore could not order at a restaurant, the automat prospered in the early 1900s and handily survived the Depression.’
- ‘By the 1920s, some restaurants and automats were heavily populated with gay men, especially late at night, and a few places openly catered to them.’
- ‘A lone female figure sits alone drinking in an automat, an area supplied with vending machines that is pure Americana.’
- ‘When we got back from lunch, I realised I'd left mine back in the automat.’
Late 17th century (denoting an automaton): from German, from French automate, from Latin automaton (see automaton). The current sense dates from the early 20th century.
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